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Best Caribbean Or Central American Vacation Spot?


k-train
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My wife & I are thinking of spending a week somewhere warm in the coming months to escape the cold of winter here at home.

We'd prefer to stay in a vacation rental over a resort or hotel. We are not big on shopping, going to casinos & nightclubs, etc. We're much more into chilling on a beautiful beach & easy to moderate hiking, eating where the locals eat, and avoiding the overly touristy spots.

We have a pretty strict, and therefore somewhat limiting, budget for this trip... probably looking to spend around $1000 total for RT airfare & up to $1400 total for a week's worth of lodging.

We were planning on a trip to Vieques off the coast of Puerto Rico, but have been kind of turned off by recent reports of a significant upswing in crime on the island, and the very real possibility of severe contamination due to the US Navy dropping bombs of all types on the place for decades.

We have some good friends who regularly visit St. John's, but I think it might be out of our price range.

I've heard Turks & Caicos is great for snorkeling & hanging at Club Med, but is otherwise just a big, boring pile of sand.

Don't have any desire to go to Jamaica.

Very intrigued by Curacao, but haven't personally met anyone with firsthand experience there

Dominica is also very intriguing

I don't think Bermuda would be warm enough when we'd be going to be worth the trip

Cayman Islands seem a little too pricey

Intrigued by Costa Rica, but it might be slightly too expensive these days

ANy suggestions, advice, input would be greatly appreciated!

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Puerto Rico is bankrupt. I hear nice things about Belize.

Yeah, I'm sure a lot things are exaggerated, but it seems like things in PR have unfortunately started getting noticeably bad recently.

Belize has been brought up by a few friends, but nobody's been yet. I think tickets from here are ;ile Costa Rica, just slightly above what we'd like to spend right now.

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I've only been to these places on cruises, but between Cozumel Mexico, the Bahamas, Belize, Honduras, and Costa Maya, my favorite was Belize. That's my non-expert opinion.

My expert opinion is that there is no wrong answer here; you will have a good time no matter where you choose.

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Another vote for Costa Rica. You can do it without breaking the bank but definitely not feel like you went on a budget vacay... quite the contrary.

You also might be able to do St. Thomas. It's more reasonable than St. John and you can get over to St. John by ferry easily. St. Thomas has some great stuff.

I did Granada about 10 years ago and it was awesome. Way off the beaten path as it's about as far south as you can go in the Caribbean island chain. It was a cheap trip at the time... no idea if it still is.

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Costa Rica and the US and British Virgin Islands are on our to do list. Belize looks awesome as well. Currently, we have a trip to Cancun lined up in March to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We honeymooned there so thought it'd be nice to go back and enjoy things a 2nd time. Lots of places to check out there as well.

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  • 1 month later...

large_282098-oceanviewselfcateringvacati

Well, we indeed decided to go with Dominica (which is NOT the same as the Dominican Republic... some folks get confused about that).

The above is a non-pro photo taken from the balcony of the cottage we have rented for the week. Just a short 2-5 minute hike down from the sea cliffs to the beaches below.

The place we are staying is a full, stand alone cottage w/ 2 bedrooms, a kitchen/dining room, bathroom, living room/ lounging space, front porch, balcony with amazing view, and a large yard with a grilling area & lots of fruit trees that we are welcome to pick. It's located near a small village on the northeastern coast of the island, and apparently a guy comes by every morning from the village bakery & you can buy fresh pastries & bread from him for breakfast. Oh, and the owners of the cottage will pick you up & drop off at the airport & they provide you with a cell phone to use during your stay, so you don't end up with a ton of roaming charges on your own phone.

Dominica just seems perfect for what we wanted in a travel destination: not overly touristy, not an overabundance of resorts distracting from the natural beauty of the place, lots of cool things to do (there's tons of amazing hikes & the island looks a lot like Kauai since it's got some great beaches but is also mostly rainforest, the last of the native pre-Colombus Carib indians live in northern Dominica, there's a ton of awesome old ruins & fortresses, natural hot springs all over, whale watching, scuba & snorkeling, awesome rivers, and the highest concentration of active volcanoes on Earth... there's even a "boiling lake" the you can hike to & look down into the mouth of one of these volcanoes.

It also has one of the lowest crime rates in the region & is extremely affordable. Round trip flights from here in NC were $610 each. To rent the cottage for a week, it's $930... plus my sister-in-law & her husband are joining us down there, so we are paying $465 for the cottage.

In summary, roundtrip flights for 2 & our own cottage in a perfect location for an entire week = $1685 TOTAL

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large_282098-oceanviewselfcateringvacati

Well, we indeed decided to go with Dominica (which is NOT the same as the Dominican Republic... some folks get confused about that).

The above is a non-pro photo taken from the balcony of the cottage we have rented for the week. Just a short 2-5 minute hike down from the sea cliffs to the beaches below.

post-23187-Dwayne-The-Rock-Johnson-Clapp

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large_282098-oceanviewselfcateringvacati

Well, we indeed decided to go with Dominica (which is NOT the same as the Dominican Republic... some folks get confused about that).

The above is a non-pro photo taken from the balcony of the cottage we have rented for the week. Just a short 2-5 minute hike down from the sea cliffs to the beaches below.

The place we are staying is a full, stand alone cottage w/ 2 bedrooms, a kitchen/dining room, bathroom, living room/ lounging space, front porch, balcony with amazing view, and a large yard with a grilling area & lots of fruit trees that we are welcome to pick. It's located near a small village on the northeastern coast of the island, and apparently a guy comes by every morning from the village bakery & you can buy fresh pastries & bread from him for breakfast. Oh, and the owners of the cottage will pick you up & drop off at the airport & they provide you with a cell phone to use during your stay, so you don't end up with a ton of roaming charges on your own phone.

Dominica just seems perfect for what we wanted in a travel destination: not overly touristy, not an overabundance of resorts distracting from the natural beauty of the place, lots of cool things to do (there's tons of amazing hikes & the island looks a lot like Kauai since it's got some great beaches but is also mostly rainforest, the last of the native pre-Colombus Carib indians live in northern Dominica, there's a ton of awesome old ruins & fortresses, natural hot springs all over, whale watching, scuba & snorkeling, awesome rivers, and the highest concentration of active volcanoes on Earth... there's even a "boiling lake" the you can hike to & look down into the mouth of one of these volcanoes.

It also has one of the lowest crime rates in the region & is extremely affordable. Round trip flights from here in NC were $610 each. To rent the cottage for a week, it's $930... plus my sister-in-law & her husband are joining us down there, so we are paying $465 for the cottage.

In summary, roundtrip flights for 2 & our own cottage in a perfect location for an entire week = $1685 TOTAL

Damm. Not bad, especially for the price.

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Favorite so far has been St Lucia on the southern side. We stayed at a resort on the beach directly between the two Pitons. Beautiful. Was called Jalousie Plantation at the time but I think it's Sugar Beech or something now.

If the Dominica trip didn't pan out, I was starting to look very strongly at St. Lucia. It looks pretty awesome.

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Damm. Not bad, especially for the price.

Yep, means we have a good chunk of change left over based on what we had allotted ourselves to spend, which we'll use as a head start in financing our next voyage...

which will likely be an early fall road trip our west:

- fly into Vegas, rent a car at airport, immediately get out of Vegas & drive up to Zion Nat. Park

- spend a day or two in Zion

- then head down to Antelope Canyon for a day

- then drive over to Monument Valley for a day

- then over to Grand Canyon for a day or two

- then back to Vegas to fly home

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I concur on the price..

I was at a jail... I mean resort in DR for 2700. That looks just as nice.

Did you get sprayed with pesticides? we did... it was awful!!!

One of the great things about Dominica is that they are HUGE on eco-tourism (they always refer to it as "The Nature Island") & are very big on organic farming, so hopefully there won't be any pesticide issues.

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